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In Native American traditions each season contains specific attributes and lessons that can nourish you and your life. These understandings were formed when people were intrinsically connected to the Earth and her cycles. Humans were a part of the whole and had a depth of communion with Nature and life that may seem foreign to most people today. That may be because we believe ourselves removed or separate from the Earth. Once you learn about the seasons and Earth teachings you begin to see that the degree of separation is much less than perceived.

"A Year in the Life of Giants" by Floris van Breugel

“A Year in the Life of Giants” by Floris van Breugel

This article will cover some of the basics related to each season. As you begin to incorporate them into your daily life, deeper teachings and understandings are available. I suggest applying the teachings of one season to your life and see what happens. Begin with the season you are currently experiencing in you locale. For example: I live in the Northern Bay Area of California. It is Autumn here now; the season of the West. I will incorporate and follow the instructions and traditions for the West. Keep in mind that different tribes may have their own totem animals, colors and attributes related to each season. This blog post shares the teachings I received from the Elders I have been blessed to know.

Let’s start with the East. This is the Spring. It is the place of new beginnings, the dawn of a new day, and birth. This season is represented by the color yellow, like the sunrise. Many of the qualities of babies (human and critters) are echoed in this season. Innocence, trust, vulnerability, wonder, and curiosity can be found or reclaimed during this season.

Seeds are pushing their way through the Earth striving to grow. Many trees and other fauna are in bloom. In order for babies, plants or trees to grow and blossom they must be tended and nurtured. The same holds true for you and any dreams, ideas, or ways of being that you are hoping to give birth to and grow in the Spring. Make sure the proper care and nurture is given.

The eagle is the totem animal in the Spring. It is believed that the eagle flies highest and closest to the sun. Eagle is thought to carry your prayers to Creator. Think about if and how you soar. Do you allow yourself to fly to the heights? Study the eagle and the accompanying traits to discover more of the eagle’s totem meanings.

Moving clockwise around the wheel of the year, the next season is South, the Summer. For detailed information about this direction and season please refer to my blog post: Lessons of Summer, The South.

Native American medicine wheel Print by Amatzia Baruchi

Native American medicine wheel Print by Amatzia Baruchi

Next is the West, which is Autumn. This is where we reap the harvest both metaphorically and in the food we gather. The hope is that the harvest will sustain you through the long sleep of Winter until Spring and new growth arrives. Black is the color of this season as it represents the cave and the womb. In this season you enter the cave to discern what to release or let go of within yourself and life. You also begin to conceive what you want to give birth to or bring into being in the Spring. It is a return to the womb of creation. Stillness and quiet, like the nighttime, take precedence in the dark cave of the West.

Additionally, the West is home to the Thunder beings. They bring the rains that cleanse and nurture life. Perhaps gratitude for the clean, fresh water that you have in your life is in order at this time. Water is also a symbol for the emotions. While in the cave we have the chance to experience the emotions and to release them.

Great Mother Bear sometimes known as Dancing Bear is the totem animal of the West. The bear is gentle but can be fierce when situations demand it of her. She goes into the den to become still. At the same time she is nurturing and growing life within her. The cave is a powerful place because of the creative potential. Give yourself permission to enter the cave as needed to renew and nurture new life within you. Remember to keep dancing just as the Dancing Bear does with all that comes her way.

North and Winter is the final season discussed here. This is the place where you drop your robe or transition to being Spirit once more. The Grandparents and Elders, both those in physical form and those in Spirit reside in the North. The North is the place of giving back or sharing your wisdom with others.

There is great beauty in the North. It is the place of healing. Take yourself out for a walk on the land in this season. You may be surprised by how much life and motion there actually is during this time. It is subtle, so pay attention!

The buffalo is the totem animal of the North. When the buffalo lays down its life the people are sustained. Every part of this splendid creature is used when this happens. Nothing is ever wasted. Because of this buffalo is a supreme teacher of the giveaway.

The seasons compliment and build upon each other. What you gestate in the West gets developed in the North. It is then birthed in the East and comes into fullness in the South. You then come full circle to the West once again where you now reap or harvest what you gestated, developed, gave birth to and nourished into fullness during the previous seasons of the year. It is a full and complete cycle.

The seasons of Nature help us to have: balance, healing, peace and joy if we look to the lessons of each season, understand them and apply them to our lives. Aho.

Shelly O'Connell

Shelly O'Connell

Shelly O’Connell, M.Div. is an author, artist and speaker engaging people in the discovery of their own Sacredness and wisdom. She has an extensive background in Native American Spirituality and women’s advocacy. Connect with Shelly for additional information at: